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Biography of Hon. Thomas J. Roth

Hon. Thomas J. Roth. Since 1906 the legal profession of Champaign County has been capably and honorably represented at Urbana by Hon. Thomas J. Roth, former judge of the County Court and a legist of the county for forty-three years. For the greater part of this period Judge Roth was located at Rantoul, but came to Urbana to assume the duties of his judicial office, and upon the expiration of his term remained at the county seat in the enjoyment of a constantly increasing practice.

Hon. Thomas J. Roth was born at Circleville, Pickaway County, Ohio, December 3, 1846. and is a son of Thomas B. and Esther (Ghrist) Roth. His paternal grandfather was a native of Holland who immigrated to the United States as a young man and located with his wife in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Thomas B. Roth, however, was born in Shamokin, Pennsylvania. Mr. Roth’s mother’s maternal grandfather, Charles R. Morris, was born in Maryland and his wife in New Jersey, and Mr. Roth’s maternal grandparents, Jonathan and Mary (Morris) Ghrist, were both natives of Maryland, from which it will be seen that on the maternal side Mr. Roth’s ancestry is distinctively American for several generations. As a young man Thomas B. Roth removed to Pickaway County, Ohio, where he lived for a number of years, but in 1856 removed to a farm near Oakland, Coles County, Illinois, making the trip in covered wagons which carried the household goods as well as members of the family, while Mr. and Mrs. Roth, with their youngest daughter, followed with a horse and buggy. From there the family moved to the Joseph Bradbury farm in Edgar County, Illinois, remaining there about twelve years.

Thomas J. Roth made his home with his parents until he was twenty-two years of age, and during this time did much to assist his father in the cultivation of the home farm. In the meantime he was receiving his education in the public schools of Edgar County, where he attended the Paris High School, and finally adopted the profession of teaching, a vocation which he followed for four years. While employed as an instructor he had become interested in the law and had spent some of his spare time in desultory reading in legal literature, but it was not until 1872 that he took up the matter seriously, in that year entering the office of Hon. J. A. Eads of Paris, Illinois, where he studied under this able preceptor for two years. He was admitted to the bar at Mount Vernon, Illinois, in June, 1874, and on July 13th of the same year located for practice at Rantoul, Champaign County. Probably Judge Roth had the usual difficulty experienced by the young lawyer in getting a foothold upon the ladder of success, but once his start was made his advance was rapid, and during the thirty-two years of his residence at Rantoul he arose to a position where he was recognized as one of the ablest and most eminent members of his profession in the county. In 1906 he was selected for judicial honors when elected judge of the County Court of Champaign County, which necessitated his changing his residence to Urbana. At the expiration of four years of fine and dignified service on the bench he resumed his private practice, but remained at Urbana, where he has since represented some of the largest and most important interests of the county seat.

On June 24, 1875, Judge Roth was united in marriage with Miss Anna M. Eubank, who was born in Covington, Kentucky, April 14, 1848, and died June 6, 1913, and was laid to rest in Maplewood Cemetery, Rantoul, Illinois. Two sons were born to this union, namely: Sidney Roscoe, who died March 21, 1917; and Harold Denio, a successful lawyer of Champaign County, who is now serving as assistant state’s attorney under Louis A. Busch. Mrs. Roth was very popular in the social and religious life of Rantoul and for twelve years served in the capacity of member of the school board there, succeeding her husband in that position. She was equally popular at Urbana, although not so actively engaged in affairs. Judge Roth is a Democrat. He has numerous business connections, one of which is with the Rantoul Water, Light and Power Company, of which he is president. Fraternally he is identified with the Rantoul Lodge of Modern Woodmen of America, and he and Mrs. Roth were members of the First Congregational Church of Rantoul.

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